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BlackBerry & You Can Live Forever


If you had asked me a few months ago if I would be interested in hearing the story of BlackBerry, I would have said… yes, but I wouldn't have expected it to be as entertaining and engaging as the new film from director Matthew Johnson, aptly titled BlackBerry.

The film is a biographical dramedy that covers the rise and fall of the founders of BlackBerry, the phones that any millennial would recognize as one of the first smartphones, which seemed to be owned only by people who fancied themselves business-savvy. They were a status symbol and essentially created the smartphone market, but a few years later, Steve Jobs and Apple launched the iPhone and changed the game.

The iPhone's dominance in this market looms over the whole story of a company that went from millions in debt to being a billion-dollar company, yet BlackBerry within only a few years has faded into obscurity.

This film does an incredible job of showing the pitfalls of late capitalism and the hustle culture that has been romanticized in our modern society, especially from this very tech sector. These are people who were passionate about quality and innovation, but they had to sacrifice everything from their movie nights and employee morale to moving manufacturing overseas and sacrificing quality. All of these decisions were made for the sake of continuous growth and short-term profits, and they crushed the spirits of incredibly passionate and talented people.

"BlackBerry" is a kinetic film with handheld/grainy cinematography, razor-sharp humor, and raw performances from Glenn Howerton, Jay Baruchel, and director/writer Matt Johnson as the founders of the company. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the wall-to-wall great music on the soundtrack, which includes songs from NOFX, Joy Division, and The White Stripes and so many more.

“BlackBerry” is a film that came out of nowhere for me and I absolutely recommend it. It’s funny, its heart breaking, at times it thrilling and it’s always engaging.

You Can Live Forever

Next up, we’re continuing with the theme of Canadian films set in the 1990s, but that's where the similarities end.

“You Can Live Forever,” directed by Sarah Watts and Mark Slutsky, is a beautiful and heartbreaking film about love in a difficult situation. When Jamie, a lesbian teenager played by Anwen O'Driscoll, is sent to live with her Jehovah’s Witness Aunt and Uncle, she develops a secret romantic relationship with a devout woman in the community named Marike, played by June Laporte.

This film is steeped in naturalism, and it feels utterly lived in. The characters remind me of people in my fundamentalist Christian community that I grew up in, and it deftly captures the feeling of being out of place and being judged for your mere existence.

There is an undeniably powerful dichotomy between the two main characters. One tries to exist as herself in a situation that requires her to participate in traditions that she doesn’t believe in, while the other is a true believer who genuinely thinks she is doing something wrong but finds ways to justify it. It's heartbreaking to see.

The cinematography in the film captures the warmth they feel when they’re together. It feels intimate and natural. The performances from our two leads feel honest; these people feel real, and we root for them to be able to work everything out. The screenplay is thoughtful and brimming with empathy and humanity and it feels caring for the characters and for the audience.

“You Can Live Forever” is a must-watch. I love this film.

“BlackBerry” and “You Can Live Forever” are now available on Video on Demand.

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Joshua LaBure is a documentary filmmaker, radio producer and podcaster based out of Omaha, Nebraska. His experience includes having directed and produced several short films, two narrative features and two documentary features, with his works featured at the Lone Star Film Festival, The Bureau of Creative Works and other filmmaker showcases. His most recent documentary had a sold-out premiere and received a standing ovation at the Benson Theatre. Furthermore, he founded the Denver Filmmakers Collective, which hosted local filmmaker showcases, has served on jury for major film festivals and has hosted countless film screenings.
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